How to get "Manage User Secrets" in a .NET Core console-application?

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When I create a new ASP .NET Core Web-Application, I can right-click the project in Visual Studio, and I see a context-menu entry called "Manage User Secrets".

When I create a new .NET Core Console-Application, I don't see this context-menu entry.

However, a "Web"-Application shows as "console" application in the project settings. Is there any way I can get this context-menu entry in a console-application ?

"Manage user secrets" from a right click is only available in web projects.

There is a slightly different process for console applications

It requires manually typing the required elements into your csproj file then adding secrets through the PMC

I have outlined the process that worked for me in my current project step by step in this blog post :


Step 1

Right click project and hit edit projectName.csproj

Step 2

add <UserSecretsId>Insert New Guid Here</UserSecretsId> into csproj under TargetFramework

add <DotNetCliToolReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.SecretManager.Tools" Version="2.0.0"/> within Item Group in csproj

Step 3

Open PowerShell (admin) cd into project directory and

enter dotnet user-secrets set YourSecretName "YourSecretContent"

This will create a secrets.json file in:


Where userSecretsId = the new Guid you created for your csproj

Step 4

Open secrets.json and edit to look similar to this

    "Secret1":"Secret1 Content",
    "Secret2":"Secret2 Content"

By adding the name of your class you can then bind your secrets to an object to be used.

Create a basic POCO with the same name that you just used in your JSON.

namespace YourNamespace
    public class YourClassName
        public string Secret1 { get; set; }
        public string Secret2 { get; set; }

Step 5

Add Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration.UserSecrets Nuget package to project


var builder = new ConfigurationBuilder()
.AddJsonFile("appsettings.json", optional: false, reloadOnChange: true)


var services = new ServiceCollection()


To your Program.cs file.

Then inject IOptions<YourClassName> into the constructor of your class

private readonly YourClassName _secrets;

public SecretConsumer(IOptions<YourClassName> secrets)
  _secrets = secrets.Value;

Then access secrets by using _secrets.Secret1;

Thanks to Patric for pointing out that services.GetService<NameOfClass>(); should be services.GetService<SecretConsumer>();

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Manage User Secrets is now available from the context menu of .NET Core Console projects (not just ASP.NET Core projects) in Visual Studio 2019 (verified in version 16.1.3), once you reference the Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration.UserSecrets NuGet.

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1.Add to your project file (Prior to dotnet 2.1 only):

    <DotNetCliToolReference Include="Microsoft.Extensions.SecretManager.Tools" Version="2.0.0" />


     <UserSecretsId>a random user id: manually add</UserSecretsId>
  1. Move to the migration project folder in Package Manager Console and add a key:value like:

    dotnet user-secrets set "ConnectionStrings:DefaultConnection" "xxxxx"

Remember to be in the directory of that project (for Package manager console this means cd'ing into the project, not solution level)

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It appears that they haven't added that (at least to Visual Studio 2015) as an option for Console or DLL apps.

You can use this as a work around, but do so at your own risk, it will trick Visual Studio into believing that the dll project has Web capabilities as well.

Assuming Windows OS

  1. Open File Explorer to C:\Program Files (x86)\MSBuild\Microsoft\VisualStudio\v{Version Number}\DotNet note: 14.0 is VS 2015, 15.0 is 2017 etc

  2. backup the file named Microsoft.DotNet.targets

  3. Add this line to Microsoft.DotNet.targets next to the other ProjectCabability tag

    <ProjectCapability Include="DotNetCoreWeb" />

  4. Save the file, and unload and reload your project / restart visual studio.

You may also need to delete your .suo file and/or your .vs folder

You should now see the context menu. It also changes the icon unfortunately. It seems to build just fine, but this is pretty untested so seriously, use at your own risk.

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  1. Right click on the project and click edit csproj file.
  2. On first line replace <Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk"> with <Project Sdk="Microsoft.NET.Sdk.Web"> and save.

Now you can access to manage user secrets menu, edit it and save. Then you have to restore the first line of the csproj file to its defaults to be again a console app.

It's stupid but it works. Remember replace the usersecretsid property for every project or will just have one secrets.json for all your projects.

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  • Powershell gist to use as an external command in VS:
  • This is the approach that we used too and it works nicely. It has the added benefit of being the most compatible approach with the (expected) fix that the VS team will eventually make (assuming it will work the same as for Web projects).
  • To help this steps, I've published Visual Studio Extensions for UserSecrets Management, called Open UserSecrets. I hope it helps you.…
  • Shouldn't "services.GetService<NameOfClass>();" be "services.GetService<SecretConsumer>();" ?
  • @Patric thanks for pointing that out, I have updated the answer
  • After testing, for me (VS2019 enterprise v16.2) it only appears after adding the package 'Microsoft.Extensions.Configuration.UserSecrets'
  • Thanks @Seth, I edited my answer to mention that
  • As a side note, with .NET Core SDK 2.1 the first step will become redundant as you'll get warning Using DotNetCliToolReference to reference 'Microsoft.Extensions.SecretManager.Tools' is obsolete and can be removed from this project. This tool is bundled by default in the .NET Core SDK.
  • It does seem stupid, and it does work - are there unintended side effects?
  • I’ve not found any related issues when using it.